Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty

Book Review: The Empire of Gold by S. A. ChakrabortyThe Empire of Gold by S. A. Chakraborty
Series: Daevabad #3
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: 11th June 2020
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Publisher
Add it: Goodreads
Rating: five-stars

Daevabad has fallen.

After a brutal conquest stripped the city of its magic, Nahid leader Banu Manizheh and her resurrected commander, Dara, must try to repair their fraying alliance and stabilize a fractious, warring people.

But the bloodletting and loss of his beloved Nahri have unleashed the worst demons of Dara’s dark past. To vanquish them, he must face some ugly truths about his history and put himself at the mercy of those he once considered enemies.

Having narrowly escaped their murderous families and Daevabad’s deadly politics, Nahri and Ali, now safe in Cairo, face difficult choices of their own. While Nahri finds peace in the old rhythms and familiar comforts of her human home, she is haunted by the knowledge that the loved ones she left behind and the people who considered her a savior are at the mercy of a new tyrant. Ali, too, cannot help but look back, and is determined to return to rescue his city and the family that remains. Seeking support in his mother’s homeland, he discovers that his connection to the marid goes far deeper than expected and threatens not only his relationship with Nahri, but his very faith.

As peace grows more elusive and old players return, Nahri, Ali, and Dara come to understand that in order to remake the world, they may need to fight those they once loved . . . and take a stand for those they once hurt.

The Empire of Gold is, without a doubt, one of the best conclusions I’ve ever read. The City of Brass is one of the best series I’ve ever read, and I’m very glad that Chakraborty wrapped it up in this way. It’s full on perfection, so read my review below to hear my somewhat rambly thoughts on it.

If you’re interested, I’ve also uploaded a video review on Booktube, in which I almost cry on camera, get really protective of Nahri, and gush about how proud I am of everyone.

I can’t promise this review is going to be any good because since finishing The Empire of Gold yesterday I’ve been a bit emotiona and unable to put my thoughts together. Sorry everyone. But I also really need to talk about this book! So here I am.

So, let’s start off with the basics. The Empire of Gold is the third book in the City of Brass series, based on Middle Eastern mythology that involves djinn. And various other creatures, but that’s for later.

Unlike The Kingdom of Copper, there’s no time jump in this book. The Empire of Gold picks up with Nahri and Ali in Egypt, having accidentally fled Daevabad to escape Manizheh. Dara, meanwhile, is still wreaking havoc in the city as the djinn go into what is essentially lockdown. Muntadhir is imprisoned, and Jamshid is missing.

I’m not even sure where to start with my thoughts on this series, because it completely blew me away and mangled my brain. Will anything else ever live up to this? Probably not.

Okay so the plot. SO MUCH HAPPENS. You’ve got the three POV characters doing their own thing, mostly, and I loved how Chakraborty managed to split them up. Ali and Nahri were together for a lot of the book, but they both added to their storylines and having them together didn’t make any of their bits redundant.

Seeing Daevabad fall to Manizheh was soul destroying. You really get to know the city along with Nahri in the previous two books, and I was so attached to it. So seeing the way the djinn had to protect themselves and how they were treated by Manizheh and her people was awful. It really pulled on my heartstrings.

The plot moved along really nicely because Ali and Nahri were travelling a lot. It didn’t stagnate at any point, although I will say it started to almost (ALMOST, but not quite) drag for me in the middle because I kept wanting to go back to Daevabad to make sure my faves were okay. They were also discovering more things about the world(s) they live in, which was fascinating. The balance between new information and the old stuff was perfect, and a lot of the new stuff had been hinted at before so seeing it all come to fruition was beautiful.

The characters…. oh boy. Nahri continues to be an absolute boss. She’s gone from being a con artist in Cairo to a future queen in Daevabad, to embracing both sides of herself. There’s one part in the book where she realises she needs her con artist side to pull her through and win, so f*ck all the people who put her down for that.

Seeing her open up was wonderful. She’s always been on her own and fending for herself but now she slowly trusts people and stops lying to them and lets them in. Nahri is the most precious and I stan.

Ali has never really been my favourite character, but I’ve always really enjoyed his POV as wel as his character growth, especially from The Kingdom of Copper onwards. He also goes through a lot of growth in The Empire of Goldd. He stops acting so irrationally and impulsively, and uses his head a bit more. He also spends a lot of time figuring out his feelings for Nahri, which is fine, I guess. I don’t ship them together, but I do love their relationship.

Dara… is just f*cking tragic. Just when you think he’s going to realise what he’s doing and turn on Manizheh, he goes and does something even worse. He’s loyal to the Nahids and doesn’t know how to stop. I was honestly disgusted with his actions and the things he did in this book, and you’re supposed to be. But there’s also a small part of him that you hope will step up and change his course.

Chakraborty has done an INCREDIBLE job with developing these characters and giving them three separate and distinct storylines. She’s a very talented writer to get all of this so write.

And Muntadhir! <3 He could have been in this more to be honest. The book would have been even longer, and at 750 pages it’s already huge, but I wouldn’t have cared. He’s got a lot of potential if Chakraborty wants to write some short stories about him, iajs.

Manizheh is TERRIFYING. And super villainous. But you get it. There’s no redemption for her, but Chakraborty makes sure you understand why she is the way she is. She’s such a well written villain, and she puts a lot of other fictional villains to shame.

And the world building! If you thought you had a solid grasp on the worldbuilding in this trilofy and in The Kingdom of Copper then you are so wrong. Things that were hinted at in the previous books in the series were brought to light, touched upon, and expanded in The Empire of Gold. This world is so vast and complex that even the characters don’t know it that well.

I loved how Chakraborty brought back parts of the previous books. I’d strongly recommend rereading them if you can because you’re going to want to remember even little details. (LIKE THE CHEF).

Ultimately, I think the message to take away from The Empire of Gold and the Daevabad series as a whole is to show compassion. The villains in this series became villains because they stopped thinking about others. They only focused on the select lucky few instead of extending that compassion to everyone around them. So, like Nahri, be compassionate. Be kind. Be inclusive. And be understanding.

I think it’s a really beautiful message from a truly incredible series, and I’m so thankful that S. A. Chakraborty wrote this and shared it with the world.

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